My segment on WZZM 13 this week featured tips on whether or not colorless foods have a place in a healthy diet. Americans often get advice from dietitians to color their plate and eat the rainbow to ensure their diet is packed with antioxidants and adequate vitamins and minerals. Specifically, deep blue hues from different berries are packed with anthocyanins, bright orange and green-colored vegetables, such as bell peppers and kale are chalk of the anti-oxidant, beta-carotene.
These antioxidants help fight off inflammation and free radical damage in the body. And these foods are still very important for this reason. However, some colorless foods definitely deserve a spot on your plate for their healthy nutrient content.
In recent years, colorless foods have received a very bad reputation. And most for good reason! Foods, such as white bread, white sugar, white flour, and white bread often lack nutrition quality, dietary fiber, protective antioxidants, and as many vitamins and minerals as their healthier whole grain or complex carbohydrate counterparts. However, there are colorless foods that should make a regular appearance in your diet due to their anti-oxidant properties and vitamin/mineral content. Let’s talk about four colorless foods to start incorporating in your diet now:
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Bananas. Bananas often get a bad reputation due to their sugar content, but it’s important to remember where the sugar is coming from. Sugar from fresh fruit is a natural sugar that are often digested differently based on the fiber content. Bananas are not only a good source of fiber, but they are also good sources of potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and niacin. Eat bananas whole or mix with yogurt and a nut butter for a healthy snack between meals.
Potatoes. “Too many carbs!” is the most frequent statement I hear from patients when we talk about potatoes. The truth is your body needs the right type of carbohydrates for energy and to function properly. Glycemic index is measurement of a food’s effect on an individuals’ blood sugar level. A higher glycemic index food may cause greater spikes in blood sugar due to rapidly-absorbed simple carbohydrates. As a result, a higher glycemic index diet may contribute to insulin resistance, a precursor for Type 2 Diabetes. For example, baked Russet potatoes only have a moderately high glycemic index, as opposed to a higher glycemic index from instant, white mashed potatoes. Potatoes (with the skin on!) are a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and magnesium.
Mushrooms. Mushrooms are a good source of selenium, potassium, niacin, copper, and iron. They also provide a small amount of vitamin D and protein. Mushrooms also provide a small amount of choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that may improve memory and muscle function. Mushrooms are also incredibly versatile! Add them raw to salads, cook them with different vegetables such as onions, or use them as a substitute for beef for meatless burger option.
Cauliflower. This cruciferous vegetable is high on the list for nutrition quality. Cauliflower is great source of vitamin C and a good source of B vitamins, dietary fiber, and manganese. Due to the phytochemical content from glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, these vegetables have been linked to cancer prevention. Cauliflower makes a great low carbohydrate option for several recipes, such as cauliflower rice, mashed cauliflower, or cauliflower pizza crust.
These are just some of the many colorless foods that deserve a place on your plate and in your dietary rainbow. Be sure to try ginger, white nectarines, jicama, parsnips, turnips, artichokes, garlic, and onions for their own unique flavor and nutrient profiles that can benefit your diet.